Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Sounds of Life

A Short Story

David’s eyes were closed under a pair of dark sunglasses, his phone resting on his stomach, going up and down in the rhythm of his breathing. He seemed to be sleeping but the phone moved just a bit too fast and the skin around his mouth was tense, as if his teeth were busy gnawing on the inside of his mouth. The final proof that he wasn’t really sleeping came when he slowly raised his hands together and cracked the knuckles first on his left and then on his right hand before dropping them back beside his phone. It should've rung by now. It always did, someone always texted him.
David, we're going to the lake house for a beer, d'you wanna come?
Hey Davy, my parents went out for a few hours, wanna hang out?
Dude, Skate Park at 5pm, be there!
He opened his eyes and took the phone in his hand to check if it was even on. It was. He gave out a loud sigh and stood up abruptly to move towards the window, his left hand still clutching the phone.
“It’s still early. Someone will call,” he assured the cactus on the window pane. He could call someone himself, but that wasn’t the normal way of things. He was the called, not the caller. If he were the one to call or text, people might think that he had nothing better to do, and while that was true enough he couldn’t let people know that, could he? He ran his phone-free hand through his thick dark hair and sighed in frustration before throwing the phone on the bed. He tried to convince himself that he didn’t need anyone to call, but then finally his phone lit up and the Baha Men yelled: who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof. The sweet sound of a text message.
If someone had been in the room along with him, David would probably roll his eyes and say something like: “Oh, who is it now?” in the most bored sounding voice he could muster. But he was alone, so he practically threw himself on the bed and grabbed his phone like a drug addict grabbing his next fix.
From: Dad
I need you in the kitchen.
“You have got to be kidding me,” David buried his face in the pillow. It was a mistake to teach his dad how to write text messages. He threw the phone on the bed and went out of the room as slow as humanly possible.
“What d’you want?”  he asked before even entering the kitchen where his dad was scooping the soft bread out of a stale loaf.
“Polly wants to feed the birds again.”
David rolled his eyes. “Dad, it’s been a year. Just tell her no.”
“It helps her. “
“Yeah, well, it annoys the crap out of me. You’re lying to her, it’s not normal for her to believe that mom changed into a bird.”
His father pushed a paper bag filled with freshly scooped breadcrumbs into David’s hand. “Just go,” he said quietly without looking at him. “She’s in her room.”
His little sister was playing with Legos and the smile that crossed her face when David entered was meant for the paper bag in his hands rather than him. ‘’Hey Polly,’’ he said and walked to where she was sitting, patting her on the head awkwardly while she snatched the bag from his hands.  She pointed towards the childproofed balcony doors and started jumping up and down as David was opening them. “Go on, feed them.” Without so much as a word Polly skipped past him, filled her palms with the contents of the paper bag and leaned across the balcony. She started strewing the breadcrumbs happily on the lawn underneath while David sat down and buried his face in his palms. This was exactly why he needed his bloody phone to ring, exactly why he needed to get out of the house. He reached into his pocket to check if someone had called, but then remembered that he had left the phone in his room.
“Daddy, I think I can see mom,” Polly said and pointed to the freshly mown lawn where amid a dozen sparrows, a lone robin came to feast on the bread.
 “You’re right, there she is,” their father answered from under the balcony and made a few small steps closer to the birds.
Anger flooded every fibre of David’s being and all he wanted to do was yell: “it’s not mom, it’s just a bloody robin, mom’s dead! Deal with it already you stupid kid!” but he managed to hold back and just say: “I’ll be right back, I need to grab my phone.”
Without waiting for his dad to answer he rushed back inside, breathing heavily, his hands shaking. Everything in this house was suffocating him, bringing back the day when dad came home just a bit too late. That was what the doctors said, if you’d brought her in just a few minutes earlier, they said, she’d still have a chance. But he didn’t and so David’s nights and days became filled with countless images of the dark coffin and strangers laughing in the back of the funeral procession.
With a couple of fast steps he was back in his room, but he could still hear his sister’s voice through the open window. “I’m making it snow,” she said, but in a second the tone of her voice changed from calm to upset: “Daddy, look at the bees! They’re attacking mom!”
David threw himself on the bed and pulled the pillow over his face. “It’s not mom! It’s a bird, just a fucking bird!” he yelled, but the pillow muffled his voice.
 “They’re hurting her… They’re…” Polly’s voice faded away, but their father’s replaced it: “David! Get down here and help!”
“It’s just a fucking bird! Let it die! Let it die just like you let mom die!” This time there was no pillow to suffocate his words and for the next couple of seconds everything went silent. Then, within the next few moments, there were several sounds. First there was the sound of something falling from the balcony; a hollow thud that wasn’t followed by tears on account of scratched knees or broken bones. The next sound was produced by David’s father, but it sounded unearthly, distant and raw. And then finally, who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.

Depression. Because why not. Anyways. Hope you liked it. Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome :)



  1. Although a bit gruesome it was an interesting read and its nice to see you posting again keep up the good work.

  2. I found you on Bookblogs and I'm now a follower via GCF.
    I hope you can visit my blog too :)
    - Joana